Why Nanjing 1937? The Forgetting and Remembering of a Cultural Trauma


  • Jody Musgrove Macquarie University


China’s modern history (1839- ) does not lack devastating and traumatic episodes for memorialisation. The nearly two centuries in question are filled with revolution, famine, drought, war, and civil unrest. Why and how then, did 1937’s Nanjing massacre rise to the very top of a contemporary Chinese calendar of traumatic remembrance? Applying the theories of sociologist Jeffrey C. Alexander, this article will argue that the Chinese Communist Party first actively suppressed, then deliberately chose to reconstruct the events at Nanjing as a national level trauma - an intentional wound on the collective Chinese psyche - to foster nationalism and loyalty during a time of crisis. The key to this traumatic construction has been representation.

Author Biography

Jody Musgrove, Macquarie University

Jody is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University.


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How to Cite

Musgrove, J. (2018). Why Nanjing 1937? The Forgetting and Remembering of a Cultural Trauma. Humanity. Retrieved from https://novaojs.newcastle.edu.au/hass/index.php/humanity/article/view/66